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Classic History of Texas Railroads & Transportation

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487.     REED, S[t. Clair] G[riffin]. A History of the Texas Railroads and of Transportation Conditions under Spain and Mexico and The Republic and the State. Houston: St. Clair Publishing Co., 3702 Mt. Vernon St., [1941]. [i-ii] iii-x, 1-822 pp. 8vo (24 x 16 cm), original blue cloth, spine and upper cover lettered in gilt. Spine lightly discolored and gilt-lettering dull, endpapers slightly foxed, otherwise fine and tight in original glassine d.j. (lightly worn). A few pencil corrections to text.

     First edition, limited edition (#1321 of an unspecified limitation, signed by author). Basic Texas Books 169: “One of the most comprehensive studies of the railroading history of any state, this is by far the best on Texas railroads. Eugene C. Barker called it a `truly remarkable book.’” Tyler, Big Bend, p. 236. Griffin (1867-1948) was employed by the Southern Pacific Railroad for nearly fifty years. See Handbook of Texas Online: St. Clair Griffin Reed.

     This excellent work has stood the test of time since Dr. Eugene C. Barker reviewed it in 1943, at which time the book could be had for $3.50. “History of the Texas Railroads and of Transportation Conditions under Spain and Mexico and the Republic and the State”, Volume 46, Number 1, Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online:

Every professional historian with a modicum of modesty has suffered at times a feeling of envy in reading books written by non-professional historians (emphasis added). Mr. Reed’s truly remarkable book may well cause a professional teaching-historian to ask himself embarrassing questions. Why do we, who ostensibly give our whole time to history, accomplish so little while lawyers, geologists, and business men, who make their livings otherwise, write such good history? I excuse myself from answering that question publicly.

Mr. Reed’s book is no less than an encyclopedia—a readable encyclopedia for the most part—of the railroad transportation history of Texas…. The principal part of the book, however, is concerned with the numerous railroads, short and long, built and unbuilt, chartered, operated, or merely projected, from the Texas Railroad, Navigator and Banking Company in 1836 down to January, 1940. Not unnaturally, the Southern Pacific receives the most detailed treatment, but there are adequate chapters on all the main systems that have operated in Texas.

The author reveals comprehensive knowledge of the problems of federal and state legislation regulating rail transportation and a sympathetic understanding of social, economic, and political conditions back of such legislation. He does not exculpate early management from common charges of disregarding public interest, but he does defend railroads against more or less conventional general charges of public exploitation.

As an individual he may have felt during his long career keen irritation against demagogues and professional railroad-“baiters”; but there is not an intolerant expression in the book…. Mr. Reed’s book may be the starting point for many subsequent monographs on phases of Texas transportation history.


Sold. Hammer: $200.00; Price Realized: $240.00

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